Implementing Small Group Social Change Ministry – from Kelly Dignan & Kierstin Homblette
“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” -Aboriginal activists group, Queensland, 1970s
Why Small Group Ministry for Social Change?
As Unitarian Universalists, our faith calls us to be agents for social change. However, sometimes this work can feel draining, daunting, or disconnected from our spirituality. Engaging social change efforts through the format of small group ministry addresses both the yearning to grow spiritually in community and the call to transform ourselves and the world. The Small Group Ministry becomes our home base, from which we engage with the world, walk beside our partners in the community, and return to reflect, recharge, and renew our commitments. Using this format encourages us to focus more on spiritual and social transformation and less on tasks, campaigns, and the roller coaster of political wins and losses. Our Small Group Ministries are places we can take risks, make mistakes, learn together, and deepen our engagement of social change, spiritual growth, and the connections between the two. Small Group Social Change Ministry asks us to take the time to reflect on how we are connected to that which is larger than ourselves and how that connection transforms us and calls us to walk beside our partners as we endeavor to create the Beloved Community.
What is Small Group Ministry for Social Change?
- Focused on one social justice issue alive in the congregation and community
- Group is not closed, but members are committed to the issue and the group itself
- Group develops partnerships with faith-based or other non-profits doing the work of your
- chosen focus. Partner with them to establish active engagement in the community and
- build relationships with the people affected by the issue.
- Justice work is done as “accompanying.”
Tenets of Accompanying for Social Change
- Being in communion with traditionally marginalized people (showing up), and
- staying in the relationships for the long haul.
- Remembering that the liberation of everyone and everything is inherently connected, and together, we are on a learning journey toward it
- Walking together as equals with marginalized people while navigating differences in a loving, respectful, trusting relationship.
- Struggling together; encouraging one another’s spiritual growth
- Contemplating the gifts you are going to receive when accompanying, instead of how you will give, help, teach, tell, or fix
- Unlearning patterns of dominance, like taking charge, leading, making decisions, etc. 7. Asking for and lending empathic support
- Moving beyond asking to acting
- Getting out of your comfort zone (materially, emotionally, and physically)
- Disrupting the systems and structures of oppression – with integrity and in authentic community with those directly impacted, following their leadership
Download the full PDF here: Implementing Small Group Ministry
In addition, watch this video from Rev. Howell Lind on Small Group Justice Ministry: